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The Awakening [Paperback]

Kate Chopin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 4 1993 Dover Thrift Editions

When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin's daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the straitened confines of her domestic situation.
Aside from its unusually frank treatment of a then-controversial subject, the novel is widely admired today for its literary qualities. Edmund Wilson characterized it as a work "quite uninhibited and beautifully written, which anticipates D. H. Lawrence in its treatment of infidelity."
Although the theme of marital infidelity no longer shocks, few novels have plumbed the psychology of a woman involved in an illicit relationship with the perception, artistry, and honesty that Kate Chopin brought to The Awakening. Now available in this inexpensive edition, it offers a powerful and provocative reading experience to modern readers.


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Product Description

From the Back Cover

When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin's daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the straitened confines of her domestic situation.
Aside from its unusually frank treatment of a then-controversial subject, the novel is widely admired today for its literary qualities. Edmund Wilson characterized it as a work "quite uninhibited and beautifully written, which anticipates D. H. Lawrence in its treatment of infidelity."
Although the theme of marital infidelity no longer shocks, few novels have plumbed the psychology of a woman involved in an illicit relationship with the perception, artistry, and honesty that Kate Chopin brought to The Awakening. Now available in this inexpensive edition, it offers a powerful and provocative reading experience to modern readers.
Unabridged Dover (1993) republication of the work first published by Herbert S. Stone & Co., Chicago, 1899.

About the Author

A precursor of the 20th century's feminist authors, Kate Chopin (1850–1904) wrote short stories and novels for children and adults. The St. Louis native lived in New Orleans for a dozen years and set most of her tales amid Louisiana's Creole culture. Many of her stories were well ahead of their time, and she achieved widespread acclaim only after her death.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well written, poor themes April 14 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
We read this book for high school english class. Although it was written beautifully, and at times i could sympathize with Edna's character, i could not help but think she was a bad person by the end of the book. Although she did reach self-actualization, she did so without any responsibility shown towards the people close to her. She cheated on her husband, and then cheated on the man that she was having an affair with with someone else, hardly feeling any guilt for any of it. She also neglected her children, and treated them as if they were antagonists. Although I can understand her plight to become an independant woman and go beyond her society, the way that she attempted this made her a bad person, and she (arguably) failed at her task anyway. Her life, even though she said she was independent, ended when the man she was having an affair with left her. After that, she kills herself. Had she had the courage to separate from her husband (despite her society) and pursue Robert, or even if she didn't get him at the end, but still lived on just as much a woman then before rejection, THEN this book would be feminist. Otherwise its simply immorality disguised as feminism. If a man had done all the things she has in this novel, no one would be arguing whether the character was good or not.
besides the problem i had with the themes and plot, it was a very well written book, and i don't agree with it being censored. It was far ahead of it's time, and may be worth a read..Just don't expect too much out of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars after all.. its a solitary soul May 23 2004
By Ting
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Awakening, originally titled A Solitary Soul, is one of the most classic examples of the books of liberation. First published at the end of the 1890s, depicts the life of an American woman named Edna married and socialized among a circle of Creoles (immigrants of the French ancestry). Every summer, her family and the Creoles go on vacation to an island. This one particular summer, Edna falls in love with a young creole named Robert. This agonizing love affair between a married woman and a younger man propelled Edna to a series of self liberation. Kate Chopin throws in the idea of "the desire of the unabtainable", such as a nun would be a subject of desire, namely the more unreachable the more desirable. Edna, a married woman, is in this book, the unabtainable. Another issue about this book, which Chopin was very severly criticized (well.. it was the 1890s afterall, but the book was revived with acclaim in the 1950s during the woman's movement) was feminism. Edna says in the book the she will do anything for her children but she will not sacrifice herself...
However, the biggest controversy is the ending. Whether it is another awakening or something else (you should decide it for yourself), I think the book should have gone with its original title- A Solitary Soul.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This is not feminism June 8 2004
By Lauren
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When my friend and I ran across a list of 101 books that were recommended to be read before college, we realized we had only read a small percentage of the books and made a vow to read more. One of the books on the list was "The Awakening," and as we had studied Kate Chopin in school and it was readily available online, we decided to both read it. Both of us had read it by the next day, and we both reached the same conclusion: Chopin's protagonist, Edna, was a selfish woman who was not strong at all, as a truly strong woman would have continued on even after the man she loved left her.
The book is written beautifully, hence the two stars. But Edna is completely unidentifiable. She is twenty-eight, yet she seems to do everything on impulse. Yes, maybe she did rush irrationally into an ultimately loveless marriage -- but her husband is not a monster, so doesn't she at least owe him some consideration? Not to mention her children -- she seems to not have the slightest regard for them, only showing affection in fits and starts.
This book should be read, if only to show what strength is not -- strength is not what Edna does in the end of this story. However, you may find yourself struggling to get through it, as Edna is often very frustrating. In conclusion -- this is NOT feminism. In fact, before reading this story I had immense respect for Kate Chopin, respect gained from reading her short stories. I lost some of that respect after seeing what she apparently believed was the solution for Edna's problems.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awakening Opens Eyes May 17 2004
Format:Paperback
Saralee says
The Awakening is a part of many required reading lists and is also a fashionable choice for book club discussions. Why is this novel that was written more than 100 years ago relevant today?
During the 1890s, if you were a part of the well to do Creoles of New Orleans you spent your summers at Grand Isle - a resort for those who could afford it. Edna Pontellier is there with her husband, their children and their servants. As the story opens, Pontellier is on the beach with Robert Lebrun and her husband is deciding whether to dine with his family or if it would be more socially beneficial for him to spend the evening at his club. We soon learn that appearances and social position are what matters most to Pontellier's husband and as long as she abides by those rules, she will get along just fine. When she decides not to abide by the rules, the story becomes interesting and the book significant.
Kate Chopin was one of the first to write about women outside of their mandated roles as satisfied domestic companions. She boldly wrote about what a woman feels like who discovers sexuality and independence and it was courageous for her to write this book. Pontellier was raised as a Presbyterian in Kentucky and it was on a whim that she married her husband who was part of the Creole Catholic establishment. Her character enjoyed taking risks but was heartbroken with the consequences.
What did you think about Pontellier's relationship with her children? Was she selfish or bold by putting her needs first? What do you think she did that offended society most? At what age should someone read this book? How did you feel about Pontellier's last act of defiance? Did her character win or lose? Why did this book end Chopin's promising career as a writer?
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Awoken
The lot of women in the 19th century wasn't a terribly impressive one -- many of them had been reduced to babymakers and inoffensive "property" for the men. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2008 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars an interesting read
I was forced to read this book in AP English my senior year, but I actually found it intriguing once I got into the plot and became familiar with the characters. Read more
Published on May 26 2004 by "tessa_9876"
2.0 out of 5 stars Dispensable
In this brief novel, Kate Chopin tries to depict the spiritual awakening of a privileged young woman. Unfortunately, the book doesn't make much sense. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by -_Tim_-
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
I believe Kate Chopin's "Awakening" is a masterpiece. The way in which Chopin depicts the life of women strikes upon the ideals of women being an equal to men in a time... Read more
Published on May 10 2004 by Amanda Fox
2.0 out of 5 stars Utterly out of Sympathy
I read this book as a senior in highschool and I am not going to complain but ...
When I began the Awakening, I expected to enjoy it. Read more
Published on April 5 2004 by Maggie Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly not heavy-handed
I've finally gotten around to reading this book, in the original, without editorial intervention. It was worth it. Read more
Published on April 1 2004 by spacellama
4.0 out of 5 stars Awakening To Forbidden Desires
Today this book is a minor classic of American literature and hailed by feminists all over the country. Read more
Published on March 29 2004 by I ain't no porn writer
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I remember
I've been re-reading many novels and short fiction from the turn of the century and THE AWAKENING was a pleasant surprise. Read more
Published on March 28 2004 by The Reading Ape
4.0 out of 5 stars the awakening
The Awakening was a book that was way ahead of its time. Kate Chopin's ideas about feminism were new and fresh, although not always popular in 1899. Read more
Published on March 28 2004
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